"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to give us new life. Christianity is truly the "land of beginning again" because sinners plunged beneath that flood of the blood of Jesus are raised to walk "in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Note these passages of Scripture: "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord...Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new...And their sins will I remember no more" (Acts 3:19; 2 Cor. 5:17; Heb. 8:12).
Since Christ died for all, we are compelled to serve Him in the fulness of a righteous and grateful devotion and loyalty: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sakes died and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14,15). Christ left the glory and riches of heaven to reach out in love and grace and mercy that our spiritual poverty might be turned into eternal riches (2 Cor. 8:9). In an enthralling gospel song: we are touched by the warmth of His sacrificial nature:
His brow was pierced with many a
His hands by cruel nails were torn,
Yet how or why, I cannot tell
He should have lifted me,
From sinking sand, He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise His name, He lifted me!
In Rev. 12:9-11, we see the drama in regard to the redemption of our souls. Satan is an awesome foe. He is our diabolical adversary. But, that the evil serpent can be defeated and overthrown by the Word of God and blood of the Lamb is the great theme of the book of Revelation. It is that which leads us to lay down our very lives for the "kingdom of God's dear Son" (Col. 1;13), as we "present our bodies a living sacrifice" to the Lord (Rom. 12: 1).
If Christ had not come (Jno. 15:22), we would truly be overwhelmed in sin with no sacrifice available to redeem us. Lost without hope is a very dismal prospect. Thankfully, because of what transpired at "The Old Rugged Cross," we joyously count our blessings and long to join the blessed Redeemer on the other shore. As Paul wrote, "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23,24). Rom. 4:25 gives the basic anchor for our souls when we learn that Christ was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Oh, what marvelous grace (Acts 20:24). "Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!"
The Law of Moses demanded that no animal could be offered if it had any blemish (Lev. 5:15). However, in Malachi 1, we see that this decree was regularly violated with sacrifices which Israel would not even dare present to the governor of Persia. They were giving scraps to God. Conversely, when heaven gave, it provided the best of the divine realm. Without a flaw, without spot or blemish, the Lamb of God laid down the only perfect life ever known for the sins of mortal man. The Bible informs us that such a One is worthy of praise, honor and majesty forevermore: "And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:11,12).
The attributes of God are varied, interesting and sublime. Many people do not know what the Bible reveals concerning deity. As a result, millions go through life totally devoid of a proper understanding of their Creator. He is JEALOUS, and does not want us to serve other gods. He said to the nation of Israel: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God" (Exo. 20:3-5).
Our affection and worship must not be compromised. We dare not try to follow two masters at the same time (Matt. 6:24). Our heavenly Father is HOLY, and demands our purity of devotion as well: "Ye shall be holy, as I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16). Our God is also the very essence of LOVE, "For God is love" (1 Jno. 4:8), and He desires that we reciprocate in a loyalty that never dies (Jno. 14:15). Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land, I am weak, but Thou are mighty, Hold me with Thou powerful hand.
Our God is ETERNAL, "from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psa. 90:2). His sovereign majesty rules in all the earth (Dan. 4:25). He is the quintessence of TRUTH (Rom. 3:4) and only we who abide therein can be free (Jno. 8:31,32,36). The immutable Creator is JUST and a keeper of His Word (Heb. 6:18). Verily the Judge of all the earth will do what is right (Gen. 18:25). There is no way we can successfully war against Him, nor should we try. Such efforts will be futile and vain. Jehovah God is not like us, and we err when we try to make God in our image! "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself: But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes" (Psa. 50:21).
The apostle Paul made it clear to the great philosophers of Athens that Jehovah is near to everyone of us, and is indeed the source of life, hope and blessings (Acts 17). Paul's spirit was stirred within him when he observed the crass devotion to pagan gods. Jonah, the reluctant prophet, had a warped view of Deity. He complained that God was too kind, too merciful, too forgiving. It grieved that shallow patriot that an enemy in the political arena (Nineveh) actually had hope if they repented and turned to the Lord! So many, like Jonah, try to invent a phantom that does not exist, and then they call their creation, "God."
Today, we even have brethren in the church of the Lord who attempt to change what the Creator clearly sets forth in the Scriptures concerning the way a sinner is saved, the standards for marriage and divorce, the simplicity of worship that is revealed in Scripture and the proper roles for men and women in the home, society and the assembly worship. Have we forgotten that God always means what the Bible says, and that must not be changed (Heb. 13:8)? Truly, fools "make a mock of sin" and "the way of the transgressor is hard" (Prov. 13:15). Let us hasten to accept the tremendous wisdom of Psa. 4:4; "Stand in awe and sin not."
The Bible informs us that sin is transgression of God's will, a failure to do that which is right, the violation of our conscience and the engaging in unrighteousness. The best-known Greek work translated "sin" is "harmatia," which means "to miss the mark". When we fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), we dishonor the One Who made us and bring shame upon our own soul (Heb. 2:10). Today, as Jeremiah sadly related centuries ago, the whole land is full of sin, What tragic times we live in! However, the Lord Jesus, the Light of the world (Jno. 8:12), sheds a ray of hope and sunshine in a world of darkness. Following the sinless steps of the Lord leads us into that realm where cleansing for sin is available (Heb. 8:12). The prophet Ezekiel tells us, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezk. 18:20), but Rom. 6:23 brings us joyful anticipation of the Lord: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord."
When that fountain for cleansing and for sin was opened at Calvary (Zech. 13:1), Christ became the One Who died for all (2 Cor. 5:14). Once in the end of the world, our Redeemer made the once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:28; 10:12) and therein we have hope for ultimate victory over sin:
O Cross; that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to hide from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.
Praise God -- we have access to the power that wins over sin!
By Johnny Ramsey in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 53, No. 49, Dec. 3, 2004.
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